Hi! My name is Abigail. I finished my mortal mission in a little spec of eternity you call July 2013.
Now I'm in the Spirit World and can help my family and friends (that's everyone) from this side of the veil. Some people get a little uneasy talking about "talking spirits" or "ghosts" but I'm here to tell you we're not scary. My body died, but I'm still alive. My body was destroyed and really needed a break, but I'll have it again soon. You'll have to trust me on the issue of timing. It won't be long, promise.
A month before I came here, my mommy was holding me and I told her "I will keep you forever." It took her by surprise that I came up with that on my own, but I knew what I was saying. I reinforced it later a few times by telling her, "I will keep you forever in my world, " and "I will keep you forever in my life". I meant exactly what I said.
This little piece of world wide web is a place my mom can continue to write and record her feelings--her progress, I like to call it. I know it's helping a few of you, too.
Remember who you are--really are--and that many of us are excited to see you all again, too. Eternity is a very long time and I have to keep reminding my mom "I will keep you forever".

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Why December is Hard




December 2012 started out beautiful. Abigail was 3 1/2 years old and thriving. Every day of the month we re-enacted the Nativity Story, sometimes multiple times a day. She loved it. It was such a beautiful time, yet it was a high that came crashing down. Deep anguish eroded the earlier enjoyment of the season.


Our family had done almost everything humanely possible to heal Abigail. For 18 months she had No Evidence of Disease, although she still continued to go through extensive, expensive, and excruciatingly painful treatments.

When your child has cancer, a low fever of 100.4 is an automatic ticket for admittance to the hospital. If they bruise, you know they are dangerously low on platelets. If they have a headache, cough, or any pain, you suspect, wonder, & worry that cancer is the cause. For the sake of their life, you are a hyper-sensitive-on-steroids mom.

So when she began fiercely crying in pain on December 23, and it rarely let up, we were concerned. Her "tummy" hurt. We tried gas drops and several other remedies. We wondered if she ate something bad.

And then she kept crying another day. Eventually she pinpointed her pain as being at her side. The oncology clinic couldn't get us in, it was Christmas Eve. Abigail was scheduled for her routine 3-month-scans on December 27. We just had to wait.

She continued to cry in pain. If I had known then to look at her back, to the left of her spine, I probably could have felt it--as I felt it months later: the paraspinal soft tissue tumor that was causing this atrocious agony, most especially for her.

December 27 scans. The oncologist walked back WITH Abigail's nurse. I knew then. Usually the nurse just tells you the doc will be in touch after the scan is officially read. When I saw the doctor walk through the curtain, my world stopped. I wanted time to freeze so I could get up and run away before she uttered the words. "Unfortunately, there is cancer..."

This was the beginning of the end. I knew beyond intellectually, statistically, or academically--I knew it in my gut and spirit that Abigail would die. I bawled as I drove home, as quietly as possible so as to not disturb Abigail still sleepy from anesthesia. I called my dad and asked him to proceed with building Abigail's casket. What a horrible phone call to make. My 3-year-old is alseep in her carseat behind me...will you please make her coffin...

We brought home from the clinic pain drugs for her: oxycodone and ibuprofen to attempt to manage her pain while we collectively came up with a game plan. For relapsed neuroblastoma, there is no known curative option, and so as parents we were allowed (this time) a choice in her treatment.

But we didn't last long at home. That night she spiked a fever, which of course landed us in the hospital.

Biopsy the next day. Another scan. Unknown black spot in her lungs, which came to be diagnosed as pneumonia. Surgery for a new central line inserted into her upper chest. New drugs. In the hospital as New Year approached. Happy New Year indeed.



So that was December. The news tarnished all prior happiness and imprinted an emotional wound so deep that it resurfaces and reopens when Christmas decorations go up. It isn't a conscious choice to dredge them up, believe me. It's like smelling a scent from your childhood and memories come to mind...yeah, it's like that, but not the happy kind of memories.

I type that and reread it and think "I sound like a basket case."

But I'm not.

I'm in pain, yes.  But I'll be okay because...well, in order to explain why, I have to admit something. I hesitate to admit it because I don't want to be misunderstood or have it be misinterpreted. But it needs to be said, publicly. I feel that others need to read it, so they can believe it, too.

I am happy that Abigail died.

I am happy that Abigail died, because I know she wasn't supposed to stay. Because ultimately it was Heavenly Father's will for her mortal mission to be finished. And if HE wanted that, then I wanted it, too. I didn't want it before Dec 2012. I prayed and worked my guts out trying to keep her here. And at times--often--I still don't want it. But I do want it, because it is right. My acceptance and consequent peace didn't happen overnight, though.

Now, some of you might be qualifying my statement already by saying "she must not have loved Abigail as much as I loved my child" or "it must be harder to lose <insert other relationship here>." Don't. Don't compare, please.

My peace is not pain-free. In fact, I don't think those are opposites because I have them both in my heart right now. So because I accept His will doesn't mean I won't hurt. But in accepting it, I ALSO feel joy and peace.

So yes, I want her where she is. I also want her here, too. But like a mother sending off a child to college, or on a mission, or in a marriage, or a move away from home, you don't want the physical separation because it will be emotionally hard. Yet you know it's best for them--you know it's right.

So when you think about me and how painful my Decembers are, know that I accept it and want it. It is hard. I am happy. It is hard to be happy. And I am happy it is hard. Yep, this is me: sorrow, grief, sadness, faith, trust, joy, hope, and pain all vita-mix blended and ultra-homogenized into ME.

I survive by knowing that when we were married, Aaron and I knelt across an alter of God in the temple and made sacred covenants through His priesthood: we were sealed for time and all eternity. Our children are sealed to us for forever. The sealing powers of Elijah are on earth again. Because we were bound on earth, we will be bound in heaven. God is a god of truth, and He cannot lie. This is my peace!!! How grateful I am for His restored gospel on the earth today. How deeply grateful I am that my Savior knows any pain I will ever feel, and He can and does comfort me.

How grateful I am that "there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings." How grateful I am that He has given us prophets on earth again!!! This December, one of my gifts to Him is to memorize this small quote and repeat it often in my mind. How comforting it is.


We Are Not Made for Endings

In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings.

Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny.

The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions—temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful.

How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father that in His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings.Grateful in Any Circumstance


I love Jesus Christ and my Father in Heaven. This is the life they felt would best prepare me to become like them. 


Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass. We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were—better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before.

This should be our purpose—to persevere and endure, yes, but also to become more spiritually refined as we make our way through sunshine and sorrow. Were it not for challenges to overcome and problems to solve, we would remain much as we are, with little or no progress toward our goal of eternal life. My favorite talk ever

 
And after this therapeutic typing, I can now honestly say, Merry Christmas. This hard December, and every hard day. Lift up your hearts and be of good cheer. 2

In FAITH!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Abigail's Carepage DIED

My last post on carepages was October 8, 2014. I didn't feel like writing anything for almost a month. When I tried to go on, it wouldn't post my update. I finally got around to calling Carepages today, and the representative said that things were looking really weird on her end, that I wasn't an administrator, and that the entire guestbook full of comments was blank.

WHA??????

I am really hoping they can fix it...

Carepages is a trivial matter, in the grand scheme of things. I realize that. But it has been with us through the entire journey and is my record of her story. To have that be potentially gone is disturbing.

December is hard, I am working on my attitude and perspective and growing yet again.

Please continue to pray for Brooke and all the other children fighting for their lives.

Life always continues; even if you die, the truest "you" is still alive. It's just that the people left behind on earth have such a hard row to hoe...Please pray for the Mendenhall family, Graves family, and Jenkins family in their recent losses.

This morning in my prayer I prayed for them, and selfishly for me, too. I prayed for courage to be happy, and the strength to choose it.

FAITH.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Prayers for Brooke

I normally post first on Abigail's Carepage site and then copy the post here, but Carepages isn't letting me post!! Rather than wait till a technician helps me figure it out, I'm going straight to this blog because the prayers are needed.



Last week I posted on Carepages requesting prayers for my friend Brooke, and something went awry and it didn't post! And so now we have a week of prayers to make up for, my friends.

Sweet Brooke has been diligently fighting her neuroblastoma for 4 years solid, since her diagnosis 4 years ago yesterday. Last week they received bad news that her cancer had progressed again, despite a new, hopeful treatment they were trying in Houston. The Hester family is back in Michigan now for another biopsy and treatment, and I'd like to invite you to pray for them.

You can also mail cards to Brooke at

Renucci Hospitality House
c/o Brooke Hester
100 Michigan St MC 172
Grand Rapids MI 49503

You can read about Brooke and her story at her caringbridge site
http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/brookehester/journal

I know I have been fairly quiet lately. We are living life. Our new life, and all that that entails. I recently had a few experiences that gave me pause, and once I figure it out in my own little brain, I'll share them here. Thank you for your love, compassion, and prayers.

FAITH.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's About Time! I'm "Moving On!" (originally posted 1/27/14)

I needed to read this again, and realized it's not here on this blog. So I'm adding it now. It's about time!


In my posts here on CarePages I have been very open, especially since Abigail's death. I wanted to show people that it's okay to grieve, because you can still stay close to Heavenly Father and still grieve.


I know that being open in public makes me vulnerable, and so I wasn't really surprised when someone disagreed with something I said. I don't expect everyone that reads my writings to agree or understand. But if I condense what was said to me, it was "You are grieving the wrong way."

This happened a while ago. What was said to me didn't necessarily hurt me, and I don't think often about it, but it's made me hesitant to post. Last night I wanted to post, but didn't.

Last night I was thinking of this before I went to bed. I had a dream (I usually can't remember my dreams!) and in it, I was missing Abigail and crying just a little bit. I walked into a home I know well and there was a group of people I know well sitting inside. They all saw me and saw the tear on my cheek. The feeling that emanated from them was "Poor girl. She is still lost and hasn't found peace." I didn't want their pity and inaccurate judgment. I turned around and walked out.

This morning I decided to continue being honest and open. I am not writing just to the person who mentioned my grief. I'm writing to address the concept of dwelling, remembering, moving on, and other such terms.

I know people won't always agree. That is normal; I accept that.

I know people won't always understand where I'm coming from. That is normal; I accept that.

I know I don't know everything! That is normal, and of course I accept that. I accept correction. I accept disagreement. I accept that being falsely judged is a really unpleasant thing to go through.

Because I realize and accept those things, I will continue to write. And Heaven knows I'll continue to grieve.

About the same time this was said to me, a friend of mine had a similar experience. Her daughter died almost 2 years ago, and recently after one of the mom's updates, she received a comment to one of her posts. With her permission, I quote it:

“I know your heart and mind mean well, but [do] you think that [your daughter] wanted you to dwell on the past? No, I don't think she would have wanted that. Get help with your grieving.
Anonymous”

The mother responded beautifully and with kindness, saying among other good things that remembering is not dwelling.

People, generally with good intention albeit very misguided, say "move on." That insinuates another message, even though unspoken--a message of "put it behind you, it's in the past, stop thinking about it. Stop letting it affect your life so much."

The problem--the very, very big problem--is that I will never forget my child. I cannot move on from her, put her behind me, stop remembering her, or no longer let her affect my life. She CHANGED me.

Remember President Hinckley's multiple comments that we should never forget the pioneers and the trials they faced? For those unfamiliar with the story, I'll summarize it for you: Two handcart companies of Latter-day Saints left Iowa City to walk to Utah in July 1856. Their handcarts had been built quickly, with green (not dried) wood, so many broke down and caused a lot of delays. They had trouble with unfriendly Indians. Attempting to lighten their loads and move faster, they discarded extra clothing and bedding. There was sickness. At times there was no water. They were then caught in an early and severe winter storm. There was shortage of food. Extreme hardship. Over 200 members of these two handcart companies died before they reached Salt Lake City. And President Hinckley has said that we should CONTINUE to read their stories and learn from their examples of faith.

Just because we remember lives and struggles from "the past" does not mean we are not living in the present and planning for the future! There is wisdom from looking in the past. There is opportunity for growth and change by looking in the past. We must also look to the future. The very big key as I see it, is that if you look either in the past or in the future with the wrong mind frame, then you are in trouble. But if you look in the past and in the future with the right perspective, it can bring growth, hope, and increased faith.

Last October Elder Edward Dube gave a wonderful talk entitled, "Look Ahead and Believe." In it, he quoted Elder Jeffrey R. Holland who said, "The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that *(italics) faith is always pointed toward the future*" ("The Best is Yet to Be, Ensign", January 2010).

At the ultimate of all examples was a man who's life changed the world. And we are supposed to THINK of Him EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. We are supposed to let His life "in the past" be so present in our lives, that it changes us.

I understand there are also natural-man ways to dwell in the past; where Satan can manipulate feelings to a fault and prevent growth and keep us locked from using the past to better our future. This is a tricky and difficult situation. Why?

Because who is to say if that has really happened to someone? Who wants to be the judge of others? Have you walked in their shoes, lived in their brain? How on earth do we ever have the right or audacity to judge whether or not someone is dwelling in the past "correctly" or "incorrectly"? Correctly based against what? Compared to whom? You? Me? We are all unique. We are all unique and have different lives. As President Uchtdorf so eloquently said, "STOP IT." Stop judging.

What may look to others as dwelling in the past may be that person's hardest trial of their life--and we are telling them to move on? To stop remembering or dwelling like WE think is the right way? Ouch. Super ouch.

Imagine what it would be like if collectively as a people we were able to replace our ideas of how things should be or our judgments of others with
compassion (1 Peter 3:8)
pure love,
and patience, gentleness, and kindness unfeigned?

How healing would that world be?!? If someone WAS struggling with the natural-man way of dwelling in the past, I could think of no better way for them to learn and grow through it than for Christ-like love to be continually poured out to them. And conversely, how good for the lives and hearts of those able to provide that love and support.

Someone gave me a wonderful analogy of labor and delivery. I'm going to include pregnancy as well.
I do not carry a pregnancy like you do.
You do not labor like I do.
We do not deliver the same way, with the same exact thoughts or emotions. We are not all living the same labor.

Do not judge my labor because it is not like yours. Recognize that even if I speak of Abigail for the next 60 years, that is MY labor. Don't automatically assume that living with "the past" in mind is strictly and solely a negative thing. I do believe Christ himself would wage an argument against that mentality.

Abigail's life is not equivalent to our Savior. Please don't misunderstand. It is the principle of "remembering" that I am talking about.

I guess to simplify it, there are different kinds of "moving on." I won't--I can't--move on like I used to because I simply am not the same person. I will--and can--move on as I am now. As I am now INCLUDES recognizing pain and death, it includes acknowledging grief, it includes being changed in how I act and think, it includes thinking about my baby girl and learning from the pain she suffered, it includes talking about her and her life. I pick all of that up (because really, it's the scoop out of my blue and I can't very well leave it behind) and as Elder Holland said, we bring it with us and carry on with faith.

I've thought long and hard and prayed to know if I should even post this. Many of you will understand it, some won't. That's normal, and that's okay. We are all unique.

I love all of you. I am grateful for the support and love you show me. I hope this sheds a little light on a tender subject and inspires all of us to continue being kind, compassionate, and non-judgmental.
And to carry on in
Faith.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I Need You to Know

Last week I went to a beautiful funeral. A bit of an oxymoron, but true.

I physically met for the first time the family that has been woven into my heart for over a year, and now will never leave my tapestry. I 'met' them on the phone at the suggestion of a mutual friend about one month after Abigail died in July of 2013. Annika had been diagnosed with neuroblastoma and our families had a lot in common. They were hesitant to talk to me since Abigail's death was still so recent, but they received reassurance that it was fine and safe to talk, and so we did. I hope I was helpful to them as they had never walked the pediatric oncology journey before, and I had. And now both of our girls are together.

During the funeral, I felt like I wanted to cry, but I couldn't. And for those who cried, it was absolutely fine and appropriate to cry. But I couldn't, because the spark of wanting to cry was doused by the strength being poured into the room, or at least into me. I could cry now thinking about it. :) I have no doubt that the Holy Ghost was present in full force and the many prayers were being listened to, and I also think my sweet Abigail was lifting me so I could be of service to others.

Annika lived a beautiful life, even in the presence of pain. She was loved deeply and still is.

As I drove home, I was shocked that Abigail has been 'gone' 14 months. Not that I haven't realized it, but it just sunk in to a deeper level. FOURTEEN MONTHS! How on earth have I lived through 14 months without her physically with me???! Through faith and His mercy and grace, that's how. Through the prayers that have been offered in our behalf. Through grueling days and painful tears and happy memories.

A wise woman and friend privately commented a while back on one of my updates, and her words struck me. They are powerfully true. Allow me to share them anonymously with you:



"I want you to know that I do care and I wish that somehow I could mitigate the pain and the loneliness that you feel. I am grateful that you put the pain and the loneliness into words. I think you are helping many, many people who have been told (or have felt that others have felt) that those emotions indicate lack of faith or lack of knowledge of the plan of salvation. Rubbish. This isn't about faith, it is about love. You love your darling Abigail. She is part of you. You miss her and miss watching her grow and become. Abigail is fortunate to have come to a family that loves so deeply and cherishes its children."


There it is, ladies and gentlemen. The reason for pain is love. The most supreme example is our Savior. He came and atoned and died because of love. We try to follow His pattern of life and service--that's why we have families. And when something goes wrong or awry in those deep feelings of love, we experience pain. We still love, and we can still have joy. But how tragic it would be to not miss your loved one after they died!

Fourteen months. Wow. I sure miss her. I'm trying to get her photos organized and memory books created. That's a project worthy of tears! Do I have faith in Christ and knowledge and trust in His plan? Absolutely. Do we have sunshiney days and happy times. Of course. Is it getting easier to live without her? No. But overall, do I feel better than I did 14 months ago? ......

Yes.

Time AND faith.

I don't want to be misunderstood here. A physical part of me was taken, and the pain will linger for all of mortality, I imagine. Some days it still threatens to bury me. But I also need to acknowledge, publicly, that Christ strengthens and gives peace. He has promised that He will not forsake or fail me, and because I trust that, I trust all His other words, too. The words that say I can be comforted. The commandment to be of good cheer. The admonition to lift up my heart, and that angels will be round about me to bear me up. Oh, it hurts, and yet He is still so good.

I just wanted you to know--needed you to know--that broken hearts are always scarred but peaceful and happy by, through, and because of Him.

I love Him. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. Abigail does too.

FAITH.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Please Pray

Today I'm humbly asking for your prayers for two very dear friends of ours. They and their families could use some extra strength and comfort and peace right now.

Our amazing 7-year-old friend Brooke recently received news from her scans that her cancer had progressed and filled her bone marrow, and that her body was no longer able to make it's own supply of red and white blood cells and platelets. She then underwent an anxiety-filled week of receiving back her own stem-cells that had been collected years ago. So we are praying for her body to engraft those stem cells, that they will help recover her marrow, and also that they will drive home safely from Michigan to Texas this week--since they just got discharged!
2013--Abigail and Brooke in Michigan for treatment at the same time


Please also pray for my precious little 3-year-old friend Annika...she and her daddy are on their way from the mid-west to Mexico today for 5 days of treatment. Annika's mom has to stay at home for a few reasons, and I'm absolutely positive this is not an easy separation for either of them. Annika's neuroblastoma is also progressing (darn that cancer) and, well, I'm asking you to pray.

For strength, oh, lots of strength: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually--I don't know of anything so draining as trying to save your child's life. For clarity and guidance in decisions. For peace on the path they are so faithfully enduring. For healing, if it be His will.

Thank you for praying with us.

FAITH.

Sep 1, 2014--storms and light

I know it's been a couple weeks since I wrote, but I wanted to tell those of you who commented on my last post, "thank you." Your love and concern helped ease, in a small way, some of the loneliness. I loved all the comments, including the ones marked 'private' that only I can see as moderator. Thank you. Thank you for mourning with me.

To Damian, who thoughtfully asked about my family, they are doing great. We did start school, but not as fast as AZ did! We are homeschooling with a twist this year--it's with a co-op group called Classical Conversations that's been around for about 15 years nationwide. We meet in town on Mondays with other families and new concepts are presented by trained tutors, then we school at home the rest of the week. It is really great and I absolutely love having my children at home. I love being able to teach them and watch them grow.

My kids love having a dog, and I think Grace reciprocates the feeling. There is always a lot to do around the house. This morning a few of the kids were helping Aaron clean up some VERY over-grown weeds along the house, and my 14-year-old daughter was stung by a yellow jacket, and Aaron was stung 3 times. Farm life.

That same 14-year-old has started her own bread-making business and has a good group of customers. My 13-year-old son does yard work for a neighbor--hard, sweaty work. And my two younger daughters (I don't think I'll ever be able to refer to them as "my youngest") have become each others' best friend.

Today is the first of September. National Childhood Cancer Awareness month. I am having a hard time with September.

In our house we have what we call the "sun room." It is 12x30' room or so, and on two opposites sides of the room, there are TWO sliding glass doors (four total). Lots of sun, and lots of windows to see outside.
A few months ago I stepped into the sun room from the kitchen. A storm had been brewing and on the entire left side of the sky there were clouds with multiple shades of gray; it was very dark and stormy looking in a powerful way. And on my right side, it was brilliant blue with the sun shining behind some white, fluffy clouds. The contrast between the two was stunning. Perhaps the dark storm appeared more menacing in comparison with the light shining right next to it, but it took my breath away. I said to my daughter, "Wow! That is beautiful. It's like my life!" Then we both chuckled a little bit and went on about the day.

And that is really how I feel about my life. It think it's how we all could feel about the world we live in. There are some really sad things, some really horrible things, some really hard things we have to deal with. There is a lot of wickedness. It is stormy. And yet, there is light and happiness. There are some really great things, some really happy things, some joyful and inspiring things that we are blessed with. There is a lot of righteousness.

The thing that brings me the greatest comfort is to know that behind those storm clouds on the left, there was sunshine. There is always Light. Christ is the light and life of the world, and of my life. He allows storms for our growth. He allows storms, and He provides peace.

I invite you to seek Him out for light amidst your storm, whatever it may be.

FAITH.

Friday, August 15, 2014

13 Months


Today's date is sticking out like a sore thumb this month.

I've thought about writing more often than I have been, but I feel like my writing and thoughts have either dried up or are the same as they always were and so there isn't very much new to share. Should I type more of the same "people hurt for a long time; please be understanding and patient; please don't judge; never thought it would be this way; so many reasons for growth and gratitude and joy and pain all together...."?

The only new feeling that I've recently come to discern and now identify is one of loneliness. I feel very lonely and disconnected from people. It isn't just the somewhat-recent move to Virginia, either, as I started feeling this way in Arizona. Somehow, being intensely lonely from Abigail's departure has affected how I feel around almost everyone else. I understand better the quote "it takes only one person to be absent, and the whole world is depopulated."

But I have some constants, and in that I find joy. My Father in Heaven always understands me, and not only that, He's constantly accessible! That is truly wonderful and I am so grateful for the knowledge I have of Him and our relationship.

I keep my loneliness tightly controlled so as to not get out of context--to not let it become an inward, selfish focus. So I am grateful for opportunities to serve and think of others; I often think of a quote that I learned as a little girl that I've never forgotten: "She who brings happiness into the lives of others cannot keep it from herself." And there are countless opportunities to serve and help others.

I'm grateful for my family. That doesn't need any more clarification. :)

Thank you for caring and reading today. I hope you will continue to pray for children fighting cancer and for their families who go through so much stress and distress. Prayers are so powerful.

Always, in FAITH.

Friday, August 1, 2014

August 1, 2014

Here we are, in a new month. As far as the weather goes, it's been amazing. Almost fall-like weather--the other night I was actually chilled being outside.

We've been busy and content lately. We took a little family vacation and visited Kirtland, OH, and Nauvoo, IL a couple weeks ago. Our one and only son celebrated his 13th birthday. Aaron killed a snake in the barn one Sunday morning (you never know what will make you late for church!). We harvested our first tomatoes from the garden today. All 8 chickens are still alive and still don't lay. We picked a couple pounds of wild blackberries from vines on our little country road. Honestly, I've never lived a July and August like this one!!!!

I finished another 3 credits for my nutrition certificate....every time I study I am inspired by Abigail. Oh how I hope I can help others.

I'm trying to use some summer free-time to work on her Beads of Courage project. For every procedure, shot, transfusion, test, overnight stay, fever, etc. she received a specific colored bead. She has hundreds and hundreds of beads. I'm putting them in a frame to be hung on the wall. Finally a year after her death I've started working on it, and it is such a sobering reminder. I'll post a picture when it's done, but don't hold your breath waiting.

I don't have much else to say. Life is good, happy, challenging, painful, prayerful, and more.

Always, in FAITH. Faith in God and His plan, which is truly perfect.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Change of Heart



It was too hard to block pain. It meant I had to harden my heart against feeling, and I couldn’t keep that up. It broke apart on Sunday, and it wasn’t very pretty. But having a soft, feeling heart comes more naturally, and I think I need to feel whatever pain this year holds for me.

March 2010. Abigail at ten months old.


I won’t be posting much more this month. I need to process my emotions without dragging others through the lows and highs. I’ve done a good enough job of that already.

I belong to a group of mothers who’ve lost children and recently one mother shared a thought that was expressed to her, something along the lines of "stop thinking about what you lost and think more about what you gained." Not that we are supposed to stop thinking of our children. That's absurd, and that wasn't what was intended.

So I contemplated that. I thought and prayed about it. I wrote down a list, and I'm still working on it. I'll share some of it with you. You can't look at it and see that one category is bigger than the other, and therefore better, because Abigail's physical presence is pretty dang huge. But there are some principles here that are really good to ponder on.

What I have LOST:

Abigail's physical presence
future/new memories
peace
worldly cares or aspirations
desire for unimportant things

What I have GAINED:

network of pain vessels
years of sorrow
emptiness
peace
a daughter whose future exaltation is secured
a personal guardian angel
refined faith
possibility of greater joy
deeper appreciation of life's precious moments
deeper love and relationship with my Father and Savior
greater appreciation for the Atonement
more longing for service
more compassion
more humility
truer perspective
deeper empathy
more of a missionary mind
a stricter obedience
Home-sickness
more patience than before
children with stronger testimonies
a stronger marriage
new friends
less propensity to judge, and
an unbreakable magnet back to heaven.

Looking at that list looks like I should be a really good person. And that is why I feel like the prophet Nephi, when he lamented because of his sins. We know better, and yet we are still sinful.

“16 Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.

 17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

 18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.

 19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

 20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.

 26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?

 27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul?

 28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul… Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.

 30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.

 32 May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!

 34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever

 35 Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.”(read it all here)

Amen and amen. What a prayer. The things I have gained is not a brag list. Indeed, I prayed for the opposite: for Abigail to stay. But apparently He had other plans for both her and me. Not only did her death bring about a new heart for me, but her intense, lengthy fight was a factor as well. Both of those broke me—broke my heart. 

Broke my heart in order to build a new one.

I trust God. All of the things I have gained are gifts from Him. It is not to my credit at all, and I can lose them if I’m not mindful and watchful and prayerful and careful.

“Be still my soul, thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past…”

I know He WILL wipe away all tears. And there will be joy and happiness, exceeding the trials and sorrow of this life. I have to live worthy to receive those blessings, as all blessings are predicated on obedience to His laws. And if I’m going to have joy and happiness then, I’d better get in practice now. An unhappy person doesn’t become happy just because they die.

Thank you for your prayers for our family. There is not a doubt in my mind they help. Thank you for your love and support. Thank you for taking this bit of a window into grief and using it in how you react with others you may know. Thank you for being kind and nonjudgmental.

FAITH.